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Outgoing UAP and UAVP Reflect on Year in Office

By Daniel C. Stevenson
Associate News Editor

Former Undergraduate Association President Hans C. Godfrey '93 and Vice President Anne S. Tsao '94 looked back on their term, which ended last month, which emphasized a strong foundation for the future and close ties with the MIT administration.

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, faculty and staff relations, and MIT's facilities for disabled students were some of the issues the UA addressed this year.

"My main goal this year was to lay the foundation for future UAPs," Godfrey said. The new officers will be able to "pick up the ball and go from here," Godfrey said. "I think they can accomplish a lot."

Last year was more successful than average, Tsao said. Time and human resources were a large problem, however. "You can't accomplish in one year what you want with a full academic load and a job."

The lack of time and manpower "are always going to be the downfall of anything that goes on at MIT," Godfrey said. "In order for the UA to be able to accomplish anything significant, you're going to have to attract a large part of the campus to participate in UA activities."

Part of laying the foundations for the future involved tightening the infrastructure of the UA itself, Godfrey said. This was done by "working with committees to refine the processes and giving them the materials they need to make the processes go as smoothly as possible," he said.

Tsao described their relationship with the faculty and with the office of the dean for undergraduate education and student affairs and other administrative offices as excellent. At times, "the administrators were more cooperative than students," Tsao said. "Change happened because we had open communication [with the administrators] to express what we felt the students needed."

"The relationships this year were stronger than they're going to be for along time," Godfrey said. Many UA officers "have been working on these relationships for a long time," he said, and they were "able to go to them [the administrators] whenever we had problems or to ask for advice."

Several main projects

Godfrey and Tsao worked on several projects during the past year including UROP lobbying, rights of disabled students, the student cable group, and the information services group.

The UA worked with Provost Mark S. Wrighton to organize a UROP forum in February. The forum "kicked off the whole effort" of lobbying for a change in the overhead regulations that severely reduced the amount of money available to pay UROP students.

Later this spring, several students lobbied the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Naval Research in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the undergraduates. "Students accomplished what administrators could not" in Washington, Tsao said.

Tsao also started working to bring the Institute up to the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. She met with several different administrators on behalf of concerned disabled students, and said she was pleased with the outcome.

"It shows a lot of promise for the future," Tsao said of MIT's work to comply with the act. "Something like this [compliance] will take a lot of time to implement. You can't suddenly educate a community on disability rights."

On the issue of student dining, the UA distributed a food service survey last October. Based on the results of the survey, the UA worked with East Campus officers to improve the hours of Morss Hall, Godfrey said. Food service will be an important issue again next year as ARA's contract with MIT expires.

Bush Fund sapped momentum'

The controversy last November surrounding the UAP's use of the discretionary Bush fund and the disclosure of the fund's records to campus publications "just took so much momentum out of the fall term activities of the UA," Godfrey said.

The controversy highlighted differences between the UA Finance Board and the UA Council and executive officers when the three top Finboard officers resigned shortly after the records were released.

At the beginning of his term, Godfrey wanted to work on "more of a communication structure with the students," he said. They achieved success with communication by "talking to the students, talking to the administrators, and finding out what the key issues were at MIT," Godfrey said.

An important function of communication is to "educate the undergraduate student body as to what the UA is all about, what the divisions are between the branches," Godfrey said.

Godfrey will release a report at the end of summer documenting the progress of the various committees and special projects of the UA, as well as recommendations for future action so future officers.

"The UA should start getting to be as much like a business as it can," Godfrey said. It should "cut costs as much as possible and try to develop groups or committees that generate funding" to leave more money for other student groups.

Tsao concluded, "Expect not to be appreciated but know that what you're doing means something, and you should be very proud of that."